MS, RD, LDN
Janel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University. As the recipient of the 2010 Massachusetts Young Dietitian of the Year award, she believes in making healthy eating simple, sustainable, and delicious.
By this point, you have likely learned that what you eat during pregnancy can have a big effect on both you and your baby’s health. But did you know that there are certain nutrients that can specifically help with baby’s brain development? Choline, DHA, and Iron are all essential to baby’s brain development.
Choline is a nutrient necessary
for healthy cell membranes and is involved in infant brain development,
specifically in memory and learning functions. Several foods are rich sources
of choline, including: shrimp and other seafood* (scallops, tuna, cod, wild
salmon, sardines), poultry (chicken – especially chicken liver – and turkey),
beef, pork, egg yolks, milk, peanuts, beans, collard greens, brussels sprouts,
swiss chard, cauliflower, and spinach.
DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid. It
is the major omega 3 involved in the development of the brain, nervous system,
and retina. DHA is found predominantly in fatty fish. Pregnant women should eat
8 to 12 ounces (or 2 to 3 servings) of a variety of fish each week from options
that are lower in mercury. Low mercury fish include wild salmon, tilapia, cod,
shrimp, catfish and pollock. High mercury fish are shark, king mackerel,
tilefish, swordfish and tuna. In fact, it is recommend limiting all types of
tuna, especially white albacore tuna, to 6 ounces per week or skipping it
altogether if you are able to purchase other types of fish.
Iron is also an important mineral needed by your growing baby for normal brain development. Foods rich in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, and iron fortified grains such as cereals, breads, and pastas.
Selecting meals and snacks from
the below listed options will help you choose foods that provide DHA, choline,
*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 oz high-mercury fish per week
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Our Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook for Baby & Toddler is chock-full of yummy, easy-to-prepare meals your whole family will love.